If you have a friend or family member with a chronic illness, it can be hard to know the best way to show your support. Whether they have been affected by the condition for a long time or just recently diagnosed, an ear to listen, a shoulder to cry on or someone to laugh with is always welcomed.
Here’s our top tips for supporting someone with a long-term illness:
1. Ask how they are and stay connected
Some people affected by chronic illness may not like to talk too much about how they are feeling day to day, but chances are they are still dealing with on-going issues. Check-in regularly to see how they are doing. It takes less than a minute to send a text or a quick email. You might not always hear back from them, but chances are your efforts to stay connected are appreciated.
Don’t be afraid if you don’t know what to say when they’re not feeling well, or when they are first diagnosed. It’s better to admit you don’t know than avoid them for fear of saying the wrong thing. Usually, your friend just needs someone to listen to them without passing judgment or offering advice.
3. Offer practical support
Ask what you can do to help – this might be as simple as helping with their children, transportation, cooking a meal or running an errand.
4. Be flexible
Living with a chronic illness may mean days when your friend or family member is ‘out of action’. If you’ve planned a catch-up or they’ve committed to an event and cancel last-minute, it’s often more frustrating for them to let you down than it is for you to change your plans.
5. Be informed
Learn more about their illness – if you know about the complexity of their illness it can help you understand the impact of their illness day to day and long-term.